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R6 Preview: Cairns v Melbourne

Who: Cairns Taipans v Melbourne United When: 7.30pm (AEDT), Friday 13 November Where: Cairns Convention Centre Watch: Fox Sports (Live and in HD); Sky Sports NZ; NBL Live App Last time they met: Melbourne 89 (Goulding 26, Holt 19) d Cairns 80 (Craig 18, Weigh 14), Round 3, Hisense Arena, Melbourne THE MATCH-UP Cam Gliddon v Chris Goulding – These former Australian junior teammates have enjoyed some superb battles, but more often than not Goulding’s come out on top in terms of points and wins. THE STATS Cairns conceded more than 85 points just seven times last season. They’ve already matched that after only nine contests, despite only a slight increase in overall league scoring this season. In his past six games against the Taipans, Goulding has averaged 27.5 points at 50 per cent from the field. THE STORY Melbourne coach Dean Demopoulos is an up-beat guy, constantly making jokes at press conferences and often found having a laugh with his players. But although United are 9-0 to start the season, he hasn’t always been happy with his team’s play. “We were fortunate in a lot of ways, we could have easily lost that game tonight too. I wasn’t happy with a lot of what went on in the game,” he said after defeating Perth in Round 3. In that game, Melbourne gave up 20 offensive rebounds, only had eight assists and forced just seven turnovers. “There were a lot of things I didn’t think were so hot tonight,” Demopoulos said after an 11-point win in Sydney. But the NBL rookie head coach perhaps summed it up best after a 14-point win over the Kings at Hisense Arena, when he saw some bad habits creeping in. “Sometimes it’s hard for certain people to celebrate victory when you see certain elements in it that are going to lead to defeat,” he said. That defeat hasn’t come yet, but Demopoulos thought his team was very lucky against New Zealand last week, and they face just as big a test this Friday in Cairns. The Taipans have played their past five games on the road, dropping four, and will be a desperate outfit back at The Snakepit, where they are 2-0. “Four of them we’ve really had a chance to win,” coach Aaron Fearne said. “The job I’ve got is to try and convince the group that even though we didn’t get some wins we have played some really good basketball.” Led by Markel Starks’ 47 points at 67 per cent, the Taipans scored 192 points in the past two games, but defensive lapses have cost them dearly, giving up 25 points or more in a quarter 10 times already this season. “Defensively we’ve got to show better discipline and concentration. We do some good stuff and then give up a 40-point quarter or 30-point quarter,” Fearne said. That 40-point period was against Illawarra last round, with the Hawks’ shooters catching fire. Melbourne play a similar style, so Fearne hopes some lessons have been learned. “Transition buckets and rebounding, and that’s just effort,” he said. “We went small and started switching everything, that’s the only way we could slow them down.” THE WRAP Melbourne’s only two road games this season have come against the bottom two teams, and given Cairns are conceding just 74 points a game at home this could be the toughest test of United’s run-and-gun offence which has made Stephen Holt and Goulding nearly unstoppable. The Taipans have seven players scoring seven points per game or more, and eight averaging more than one assist, so if they’re allowed to get the Wilson moving inside and out this will also be a stern test of Melbourne’s undersized defence.
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